Following an impressive showing from the women’s team, the no. 8 men’s squad looked to build on the first game’s success and continue their perfect record at home.
Kirkwood won the tip, but North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) hit two early threes to jump out to a 10-4 lead. After Cassius Brooks drew a foul, Kirkwood pulled within 4 and deployed their full-court pressure at the 15-minute mark.
The Trojans struggled to break through, and after an NIACC turnover and Kirkwood fast-break layup, Arthur Cox drew a foul to bring the Eagles within 1. NIACC answered with back-to-back buckets to expand their lead to 5, but after two free throws and a deep 3 ball from Justin Recker, Kirkwood took the lead.
The Trojans stopped the Eagles’ run with a score off of an Eagles turnover, but King drew a foul to put Kirkwood in the bonus for the last 10 minutes of the first half. After starting cold at the line, the Eagles started to warm up while NIACC went cold from beyond the arc.
Kirkwood took full advantage of their free throws and King scored on a fast-break layup off of a NIACC airball to expand the Eagles’ lead to 10. The Trojans answered back with their first three in over 5 minutes to cut Kirkwood’s lead to 7 going into the half.
NIACC opened the second half with a full-court press and pulled within 5, but after some back and forth a 3-point play from King and a putback by Berthe expanded the Eagles’ lead to 12. NIACC’s full-court pressure started to wear down Kirkwood, however, and back-to-back NIACC 3s pulled them to within 6 of the Eagles.
Kirkwood’s Caylor Hoffer and King fired back, with King drawing a foul on a made shot to put Kirkwood back up by 12. But NIACC was not going away. Their pressure proved effective, and they were able to battle back to within 3 on two occasions as the second half progressed.
A wild Kirkwood pass left the Trojans with a chance to tie with 42 seconds remaining, but an off-the-ball offensive foul proved costly for NIACC, as Recker hit two free throws to cushion the Eagles’ lead.
Brooks hit on two free throws to ice the game for Kirkwood with 7 seconds remaining, and the Eagles prevailed 83-76.
Kirkwood shot 45.9% from the floor and was led in scoring by Noah King with 20. Justin Recker added 17, and Ayouba Berthe and Cassius Brooks chipped in 15 and 10 respectively. Key to the Eagle’s victory was out rebounding the Trojans 41 to 26 and hitting 22 free throws to NIACC’s 11.
Categories: Basketball, Sports
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